Thursday, February 10, 2011

Kolbe Book

I've actually started writing the Kolbe Book! I have about 5 paragraphs written so far. This is going to be a great project. I am very excited and have enlisted the help a few relatives, George Kolbe (my brother in law) and Sue Kolbe (the wife of cousin Joe Kolbe).

I feel very focused. I don't have a time line yet for publication, but do have a lot of ideas yet to put down on paper.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Family History Library in Salt Lake City

I've spent the past few days at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. This place is Disneyland for genealogists! I've been focusing on the Kolbe Family, but have checked out a few minor resources on some other lines of mine.

It is so great to be able to walk a few steps to get a microfilm or book I need. No waiting seemingly endless weeks for a film only to find it wasn't as helpful as I thought it might be.

The hours I've spent of eternal microfilm viewing just seem to pass by like nanoseconds. The helpful experts who read and speak multiple foreign languages are a true gift. I simply take the German church record off of the microfilm reader, carry it to them and they translate it right there on the spot. Amazing, truly amazing!

I have actually enjoyed "old fashioned" microfilm viewing. It takes me back to pre-internet days. When a true genealogist was measured by the blisters on their fingers from turning the microfilm handle or the paper cuts on their lips from sending out self-addressed stamped envelopes.

Another important thing about manually scanning microfilms is that you are able to find the names of the people who lived in your ancestor's village or town (possible relatives). Or even find names similar to your family. For example, I found Kulbe, Kulbes and Kolb. Makes me wonder if Kolbe's in the 17 and 1800's had trouble with their name spelling like I do today. Probably.

Watching page after page of deaths roll by on a microfilm screen helps epidemics be quickly spotted. These things are simply not possible with today's technology of typing in a name and watching the record pop up on a computer screen.

The library is open 13 hours a day while I am here and I am in it most of those hours. It really is a great place to visit if you haven't created an opportunity to do so. To be in the biggest genealogy library in the world surrounded by people like you is a dream come true!

This was one of my "bucket list" items. I'm not taking it off the list though it is staying on permanently. That way I can keep coming back again and again and again...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kyler Thomas Kolbe

Kyler Thomas Kolbe - my grandson - the newest Kolbe - the great-great-great grandson of Wilhelm and Pauline Kolbe arrived on September 9. Being a grandparent is absolutely wonderful. But I think grandchildren are even more special to those of us who are genealogists. We love knowing the path our ancestors took so the child could be with us.

We anxiously await the special day not only so we can meet our grandchild, but secretly we can't wait to officially record the birth date and place in our records.

Kyler was born 120 years after Wilhelm left Germany to provide a better life for his family in America. Now to see the results of Wilhelm and Pauline's dream. What would they would think to see their dream come true?

I wonder what my great-great-great grandchild will be like? What will their name be? Where will they live?

We all have a lot to thank our ancestors for...the dreams they had and the journeys they took to leave their dreams to us.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Emil Kolbe's Shooting Part 5 - Family Stories

Family events develop into separate, distinct stories as years and families grow distant.

When family members leave and create their own new families, the stories go with them and are passed to their children and so on, much like DNA. It makes sense that the stories change through all the people and all the years.

Later when a document or other evidence appears that may challenge one's perception of a story they held for their whole life it may cause some uneasiness.

The document or evidence doesn't mean that anyone was wrong in their perception or belief. It is meant to help shed light on the event, not to judge the story that has been passed down.

Emil Kolbe's Shooting Part 4 - Family Feedback

I emailed the newspaper article to Kolbe family members all over the country and the response was great. Emails were "flying" all over the country:

"Amazing find. Amazing story...the written English of the time is just a little weird people do not really use phrasing like that anymore..."

"Amazing nugget of historic gold" I can see the scene as I had the opportunity to be in the remains of the store one time. It makes things come alive."

"Interesting that the news brief referred to the 2 bad guys as ‘visitors.’"

"This is fun."

"This is like a Nancy Drew mystery."

This newspaper article brought up some different views on the event:

1. Joe, Emil's oldest grandson, recalls that there was a second shooting in 1932 or 1933; a much more serious shooting in the throat that led to the decline of Emil's health.

2. Uncle Carl, who was born in 1917 (now age 92) is pretty sure he was in 6th or 7th grade when it happened. This would make the shooting around 1930 or 1931 instead of 1922. Carl recalls there were two attempted robberies. One time Emil was shot and the other time a young kid (perhaps on drugs) with a gun came in the drug store, and Emil pushed him out the door.

I've written the Detroit Police to check for any possible surviving police report. Also I've ordered the Detroit newspapers for the 1922 timeframe to see what else might be available.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Emil Kolbe's Shooting Part 3 - The Newspaper Article!


Lisa Louise Cooke read my blog and graciously emailed me the full article!


Reading the article, I noted details that were amazingly close to the story Uncle Carl had relayed: Emil was alone in the store and he opened his mouth to call for help when he was shot through his cheek. Wow - think of the split-second timing that kept that bullet away from his teeth, tongue or even other vital organs. I wonder if the bullet was ever found.

The fact that three shots were fired into the crowd that pursued the criminals was a new detail. I hope no one was injured.

I'll send a copy of this article to the Detroit Police when requesting a copy of the police report. Hopefully one exists.

Emil Kolbe's Shooting Part 2 - Finding the shooting date!


The shooting date is found!

I listened to The Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 37 about newspaper research. Lisa Louise Cooke's "gem" about expanding a search outside a target area really paid off.

At, I entered Kolbe as a search word and was stunned when an article dated October 17, 1922 for the Kalamazoo (Michigan) Gazette came up. The headline stated, "Druggist Shot By Holdup Men Bullet Penetrates Cheek Without Striking Man's Teeth or Tongue". The article snippet mentions Emil B. Kolbe.

Now I know the shooting date. Since I don't have a subscription to and neither does my local library, I ordered the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press for October and November 1922 through interlibrary loan. I also plan on contacting the Detroit Police to see if a police report still exists for this crime.

Reflecting on the crime made me realize what a miracle that Emil wasn't killed or seriously maimed after being shot in the face! Why did the criminals rob him - money, drugs or both? Did they ever get caught? What effect did the crime have on the family? Questions that will have to wait for future research.